I have never been a fan of bees. I am not allergic to the sting but I find them quite unpleasant and have a long history of unpleasant encounters with them, not to mention hornets, wasps and the like. At least we don’t seem to have such stinging pests in Thailand, at least not where I live.
As an anti-bee person, I never gave their appearance on stamps a second thought despite their being a rather popular topical. That may change, however, with the recent release of an attractive set of bee stamps by Malaysia and a forthcoming set by the United Nations Postal Administration for all there of its issuing offices. The latter will mark World Bee Day on May 20 and will be UNPA’s first “scratch-and-sniff” stamps with a honey scent on the flowers. Which makes me wonder, “Will the stamps attract real bees with the honey scent?” It is a good thing that nobody has issued edible stamps either (imagine the cataloging — “that’s the half-eaten variety”, “the regurgitated variety”) or I would be sorely tempted. Honey is one of the foods I miss; Thai-made honey is really the worst I have ever eaten and non-Thai honey sold here is extremely expensive (I once ordered a jar from Pitcairn Island — still the best I have tried — and the shipping cost was less than the average cost of a jar sold here).
Lately, it seems there have been a plethora of such “unusual” stamps with the fabric stamps from Luxembourg and the Vatican City, other odd-materials stamps made of items such as different forms of wood and metal and the ever-creative shapes such as Malaysia’s honeycombed-shaped stamps for its bee issue (not to mention a bee-shaped souvenir sheet as well). I am finding myself increasingly drawn to such non-traditional stamps and am looking forward to finding more. However, I will have to forego the recent issue from Liechtenstein that includes an attached 1-gram .999.99 fine gold ingot and probably Romania’s silver stamp issued for Easter.
One of the more unusual materials I have come across will be featured on the upcoming Space Pioneers set to be released by New Zealand Post on May 1. As soon as I saw the design, I became a fan of the se-tenant strip of stamps featuring portraits of various Kiwis who had contributed in some way to space exploration through discoveries, inventions or observation with the individual stamps forming a rocket shape (the portraits peering out of portholes in the fuselage). While the majority of space-themed stamps released in 2019 are designed to commemorate the Apollo 11 spacecraft or the astronauts who flew on that mission, it is nice to see New Zealand Post once again thinking outside of the box. What makes this set (and the accompanying 3D lenticular souvenir sheet) even more interesting is that they have been topped off with a sprinkling of crushed meteorite, creating stamps that are quite literally “out of this world”.
Another space stamp that I will definitely be ordering is the Faroe Islands commemorative for the Apollo 11 anniversary. There are several reasons for my interest, aside from the topical. I have avidly collected stamps and postal history from the Faroes since the late 1980s. It was one of my first completed country collections along with Åland Islands (I used to have nice Davo hingeless albums for both). However, upon reading the story about the artist who designed the single 17-kroner stamp makes it somewhat more personal. The stamp depicts one of artist Edward Fuglø’s first childhood memories — that of his father pointing out the moon at the time of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s arrival upon the surface. At the time, the Faroe Islands had no television access so those living there received news of the Apollo 11 mission via radio relays between Denmark Radio studios in Copenhagen and Útvarp Føroya, the Faroese radio station. Fuglø was just four years old at the time of the moon landing, as was I when my parents allowed me to stay up late for Armstrong’s historic “one small step for man, one giant leap for Mankind.” To this day, I believe those ghostly images to be my own earliest memory.
In the description about the Faroe Islands Moon Landing stamp, it mentioned that Edward Fuglø had once “created a nine-meter-long satirical painting entitled ‘The Seagull Has Landed’, showing an astronaut planting the Faroese national flag on the Moon, while a group of other astronauts engage in the traditional Faroese chain dance on the Moon’s surface.” A portion of this is shown on Posta’s website but I just had to track down a copy of the original painting. I finally found it on Fuglø’s website (under Works\2012);I think it would make a mighty fine stamp in it’s own right.
An online article for Linn’s Stamp News this week reminds me that April is National Card and Letter Writing Month in the United States. I try to participate such activities as often as I can (although I missed A Month of Letters this February) and will request a few more addresses for Postcrossing this month. I have done quite a few activities during English lessons over the years revolving around writing (and designing) postcards over the years. There are a few interesting lesson plans (with downloadable materials) on the Scholastic website associated with National Card and Letter Month, several of which I will try in classes in the upcoming school year (April in Thailand is a month-long holiday period). The card and envelope templates on the site are especially nice.
Finally, on this rather short weekly update (as I would like to get out and participate in some New Year’s Eve festivities — tomorrow is the Thai New Year), I wanted to mention that 12 years ago today the first of the FOREVER-priced stamps issued by the United States Postal Service was released. The Liberty Bell housed at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was chosen as the first subject to be featured on such a stamp which are sold at the current first-class postage rate, remaining valid even if that rate rises in the future. If you buy a Forever stamp at 49 cents per stamp and the first-class postage rate rises in six months to $0.55 per stamp, you are saving six cents for every letter you send. The first of the Liberty Bell stamps was issued on April 12, 2007. At the time, the USPS stated, “The Liberty Bell is an icon that resonates for freedom and independence for all of America, and those are exactly the qualities we want people to associate with the Forever stamp.” Thirteen varieties of this design were released between 2007 and 2010; the stamp on the first day cover pictured in this article is Scott #4128 from the ATM booklet printed by Avery Dennison with serpentine die-cut perforations of 8.
The Forever stamp was so successful for the Postal Service that in 2011, they started using Forever stamps for almost all first-class stamps. In 2015, the postal service extended the Forever stamp concept to postcard-rate stamps and more. According to a 2015 notice from the USPS, the Forever Stamps eliminate “the need for customers and the Postal Service to acquire and distribute new denominated stamps in anticipation of price changes affecting these stamp types, each time a price change occurs.” It is hard to believe that all of this began just 12 years ago — AFTER I had moved away from the United States….forever.
See you next week. And “Happy Thai New Year” (Sawasdee pii mai Thai) everybody!
Unfortunately, I didn’t have much of a philatelic week last week as most of my time was spent working on school-related tasks. The end of the long school year is upon us and next week is comprised solely of final exams — tests in English and Chinese subjects Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with the Thai language exams occurring on Thursday and Friday. My M3-level students (roughly equivalent to the Sophomore level of high school in the United States) will take entrance exams for different schools on Monday before starting their holidays next Tuesday). The 2019-2020 school year will begin in early May, probably the Tuesday following the Royal Coronation of HM King Maha Vajiralongkhorn (Rama X). There should be plenty of Thailand Post philatelic items surrounding that long-awaited event.
It’s been a busy month at work for me but still I have maintained daily articles for A Stamp A Day, all but a very small handful revolving around the theme of National Stamp Collecting Month. Today’s article gives a history of postcards, an introduction to collecting them and a discussion of the Postcrossing project. I’d chosen a Postcrossing-themed stamp from Romania to illustrate the article and planned to sprinkle scans from my meager collection of six stamps related to this topical.
At about the time I should have been wrapping up the article this afternoon, I began putting together a checklist of all of the Postcrossing stamps I could find. Not only that, but I sought out images of each of the stamps themselves (not always an easy task). I came up with a total of 20 different issues between October 2011 and early this year and 42 different stamps. Rather than simply throwing them into a slideshow, I decided to create an illustrated version of my list here on Philatelic Pursuits. Most of the images and catalogue numbers were sourced from the Colnect online catalogue with the Universal Postal Union’s WADP listings and Postcrossing providing a few others plus some information on sheet sizes and stamp designers. The listing is in chronological order.
It’s a great topical, both for stamp collectors and for deltiologists who love Postcrossing. Which reminds me: I haven’t sent or received any postcards at all in 2018 (been too busy with other endeavors, I suppose) so I think I should get cracking and write some cards this weekend.
NOTE: This article also appears, virtually the same, on Asian Meanderings — my main blog about my life in Thailand.
Since 1981, the month of October has been celebrated as National Stamp Collecting Month in the United States and Canada. November is National Stamp Collecting Month in the Philippines.
I began collecting stamps around the age of nine years old; counting a few breaks for other pursuits (girls, music, travel to name but three), I estimate that I have been involved in the hobby for a little more than 30 years. I promote it whenever and wherever I can these days, having begun collecting again following my move to Thailand more than a decade ago.
At the beginning of July 2016, I started a blog called A Stamp A Day on which I feature a different stamp (usually from a different place) each and every day. Different countries and territories have been included in a more or less alphabetical order and historic anniversaries and birthdays have been marked on occasion with an appropriate stamp. The write-ups (background histories on the issuing entities and details about the stamps) are often quite lengthy!
“ASAD” is my second stamp blog; Philatelic Pursuits is still active with a post or two each month. I also have a blog dedicated to postcards that I receive through Postcrossing, trades, or traveling friends and family members. I feel that the hobbies of philately (stamps) and deltiology (postcards) compliment each other. I recently changed the name of my postcard blog (for the third time) and it is now called Postcards to Phuket.
I live in Phuket, an island province in the south of Thailand. It wasn’t long after I’d arrived here that I discovered the Phuket Philatelic Museum in the administrative capital of Phuket Town. My first visit was in the midst of celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the reign of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. I’d already been struck at how Thai people worshiped the king as a deity and had been swept up in royal fever. Seeing the beautiful stamps issued in his honor spurred me to return to the hobby.
While never much of a museum (a few dusty displays of telegraph equipment and several frames of stamp “reproductions” at the present), the Phuket Philatelic Museum contained a large shop which was filled with Thai stamps dating back to the early 1970s (all sold for face value), first day covers for the previous year’s releases, albums and supplies in a dedicated room.
About three years ago, the shop was moved to a counter in the museum lobby to make room for Thailand’s first drive-thru post office. Many of the supplies such as albums and ornate stamp pages plus older stamps were gone but at least I could still purchase the new-release stamps and first day covers (going back a year or so) as well as the annual yearbooks. The main clerk spoke good English and was extremely helpful. She was reassigned about a year ago, replaced by a woman who speaks very little English but is quite cheerful and always let me go through the stock books.
I recently visited the Phuket Philatelic Museum for the first time in quite a while and was told that they weren’t selling stamps anymore. There were a few first day covers remaining (most of which I already had). The clerk told me she didn’t know if they would receive any stamps in the future. She seemed quite upset about it. I’m actually worried that the museum itself might close down as I believe the sales counter was the only income source. There’s a meeting room that I believe used to be used by a local stamp club but I could never get any information about meetings, etc. I’ve had ideas in the past to organize a Postcrossing meeting there amongst members who live on the island or to form my own stamp club, but I just haven’t had the time.
I am now unable to purchase any Thai stamps locally; one visit to a nearby post office left me wondering if the two clerks on duty even knew what a stamp was!) I will have to rely on mail order until I find someplace else. It’s a shame as there have been some very interesting stamps issued by Thailand recently. I am looking forward to finding out what Thailand Post has planned to mark the one-year anniversary of King Bhumibol’s death; there’s already been an extensive series of banknotes and coins announced by the Royal Thai Mint.
The whole of October leading up to His Majesty’s cremation at the end of the month will be a period of intensified mourning in Thailand. The initial period lasted from his death on October 13, 2016, to the beginning of December (his birthday) when his son formally accepted the succession and became King Rama X.
While a number of people have remained wearing black for the entire year (including all teachers such as myself), it will once again be expected in public starting (I believe) today. Since midnight last night, all Thai television stations are broadcasting in black and white only; most of my Thai friends have changed their Facebook profile and cover photos to greyscale today. The public are requested not to engage in any festivities during the month of October and many entertainment and sporting events will be canceled. There will be many other signs of mourning and I will put together another article in the near future detailing some of those.
I plan to do my part by combining my celebration of National Stamp Collecting Month with a memorial to the late king. I’ve decided to feature only Thai stamps on A Stamp A Day during the month of October, mainly those portraying King Bhumibol. I plan to keep the commentary to a minimum so that I’ll have the time (and energy!) to write a few how-to-collect articles for Philatelic Pursuits and add a few things to Postcards to Phuket as well.
Happy Stamp Collecting Month(s)!
While I’ve posted something EVERY DAY since the beginning of July on A Stamp A Day, I haven’t written anything for Philatelic Pursuits in quite some time. In an effort to find inspiration on a more regular basis, I am starting this new bi-weekly feature, relating bits and pieces of philatelic information that I stumble across on the internet. These will include news items, new-to-me resources, or something I found interesting for one reason or another. I’m calling it “Phila-Bytes” (until I can think of something better!).
I start this first edition with a quote found on the Collecting Irish Stamps, Coins, Postcards and Collectibles blog in an article about a Glasgow stamp shop:
A Stamp Collection is meant to be unique, personal…even a bit quirky ….an extension of ME.
Good words to collect by…
The biggest news in Thai philately right now is that Thailand 2016 – the 32nd Asian World Stamp Exhibition – is set to start today, 10 August, at The Mall Ngamwongwan Convention Center in Bangkok. This is sponsored by the Federation of Inter-Asian Philately (FIAP) which holds several of these large stamp shows each year rotating around its member countries. For example, the 31st Asian World Stamp Exhibition occurred in Hong Kong last November while the 33rd will be held in Guangxi, China, from 2-6 December and the 34th takes place in Melbourne, Australia, at the end of next March. Unfortunately, I have never been to a large stamp exhibition in the decade that I’ve lived in Thailand as they always seem to occur when I’m extremely busy with work!
Thailand is releasing a single stamp today to mark the Thailand 2016 show as well as the annual release on Friday (the 12th) to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s birthday. According to the Commonwealth Stamps Opinion blog, Pos Malaysia will reissue last December’s “Trains in Sabah” miniature sheet with an additional inscription to mark its participation in the show. Thailand 2016 runs through 15 August.
During my childhood collecting days, I dabbled in Olympic stamps. The Montreal games of 1976 occurred just after I’d begun collecting and I vividly remember seeking out the commemorations of this event. Watching the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Olympics in Rio this past week has caused me to reflect on how much the hobby of stamp collecting has taught me about the world. I have always watched the ceremonies no gain some feel for the host country’s culture and language. I also enjoy seeing the national flags in the parade of athletes and strive to call out the country name before the announcers do. It’s nice to see the real flags that I’ve collected philatelicly through the years. It’s also wonderful when team members wear their national costumes, which brings to life images usually seen on my album pages. Our hobby is a wonderful learning tool in so many different fields.
Olympic stamps seem to be even more popular now but most countries issues but so few are affordable to a general worldwide collector such as myself. I may purchase a few here and there, and probably only on First Day Covers. I quite like the set issued by Singapore on the day of the Opening Ceremony. The aforementioned Commonwealth Stamps Opinion blog says that the stamps were designed by Andy Koh and lithographed by Lowe-Martin. The blog gives the set a three-star rating.
I love looking at old photographs, especially those in black and white, so I was quite interested in a recent article on the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum blog telling about Marion Post Wolcott who was the first female photographer for the Farm Security Administration, working for them from 1938-1942. During that time, in the midst of her work highlighting the effects of the Great Depression on regular citizens, she photographed many post offices in rural areas. A search on the Library of Congress’ Print & Photographs Online Catalog uncovers thousands of results, several of which illustrate this edition of “Phila-Bytes”.
With my great interest in Mauritian philately over the past year or so, including a reading of the excellent book Blue Mauritius by Helen Morgan, I cannot figure out how I managed to miss the news that the original copper plate to print the 1p and 2p 1847 issue had been rediscovered at long last. I nearly missed the news item on StampNews.com as well discussing how the plate was to go to auction this coming December. A visit to the website of David Feldman – the Geneva-based auctioneer – revealed a nice section devoted to the Mauritius plate, including an excellent documentary and a commemorative book for sale. I’m going to have to save up for that one at 65 euros, including overseas shipping. (Um, oops. I just found out that the book is sold out!)
Another accidental stumble recently (yesterday!) was found on philatelic author Richard Frajola’s website. The “Edwin Mueller Series on European Classic Stamps and Postal History“, is a collection of articles published in the Mercury Stamp Journal between 1950 and 1962. The focus of the series was to cover the philatelic and postal history of only those European stamp-issuing entities which were independent or had their own postal service before 1875. Mueller counted these at 61, although several issuers were grouped as “forerunners” of later independent nations (Basel, Geneva, and Zurich being grouped with Switzerland, for example). While the author’s death in 1962 prevented the completion of the series, there were 35 published articles covering the issuers from Alsace-Lorraine to the Netherlands.
The Mueller articles discuss postal stationery, pre-stamp postmarks and cancellations in addition to the stamps themselves in order to give as complete a picture as possible about each entity. This is an excellent resource and I plan to use it to add details in my album page write-ups and those on my A Stamp A Day blog (which are becoming as lengthy as the “Stamp Issuers” series here on Philatelic Pursuits).
Apart from collecting stamps and postcards, my other main holiday is reading. I began my teaching career in Thailand as a reading teacher back in 2007. Through my students, I discovered the works of Roald Dahl and the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I have small thematic collections of stamps related to each. Thus, my interest was piqued in reading on the Postcrossing.com blog that there is to be an exhibition devoted to Harry Potter at the Singapore Philatelic Museum, perhaps the best stamp museum in the region. The exhibition will be held from November until next July and the museum is calling upon fans to submit items from their collections for inclusion.
The SPM is also asking that the public send them Harry Potter-themed postcards. Cards received by 21 August that include a return address will be reciprocated by a card sent by the museum. The address is:
Singapore Philatelic Museum
23B Coleman Street
While I don’t have any Harry Potter postcards, I will send something (perhaps my self-designed Postcrossing anniversary card in the hopes of receiving a card from the SPM. Perhaps I’ll try to take a mini-holiday down to Singapore around Christmastime and visit the museum again myself.
That wraps-up the first edition of “Phila-Bytes”. Please feel free to comment with any suggestions, links to philatelic sites you find interesting, or ideas for a better name. (I came up with the idea and name while stuck in traffic on the bus last night…)
As expected, local mail delivery was halted during the almost-two-week’s long Phuket Vegetarian Festival as the street processions with their accompanying unregulated fireworks (thrown by the spectators) would have put the motorbike-driving postmen at great risk. Yesterday’s national holiday marking the birthday of Thailand’s revered fifth king, Chulalongkorn, provided yet another no-mail day but I finally received a few items this morning.
I was pleased to receive the latest edition of Thailand Post’s new issues bulletin with MOST of the upcoming releases for the fourth quarter illustrated. At this point, there are just twenty-one individual stamps in seven different sets remaining in the 2015 stamp program. Of course, Thailand Post always issues a few more in December with little or no warning. The next upcoming issue is a pair to be released on 2 November marking the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Sri Lanka. As usual, I love the English headlines accompanying each description. One commemorating the Department of Corrections has the headline “A Pride of Corrections the Protects the Society” while the World Post Day issue is described as “National Economic Support and the Global Connectivity.” The catalogue reminds me that I missed out on a few recent issues over the past couple of months so it’s time for a trip to the Phuket Philatelic Museum in the near future.
I received a pair of postcards one via Postcrossing which, I can honestly say, is the first I have ever received that didn’t bear a single stamp. Instead, there is a very ugly Deutsche Post meter with a QR code upon it. I was surprised as many Postcrossing members seem to be stamp collectors or at least aware that their recipients are collectors (indeed, I mention it in my profile). The second postcard was MUCH more interesting as the first thing I noticed was that it had been posted from Mauritius – a island nation in which I have become quite interested lately. This is due in large part to my recent reading of the wonderful book Blue Mauritius: The Hunt for the World’s Rarest Stamps. Imagine my surprise when I turned the postcard over and found it had been sent by that book’s author, Helen Morgan. She’s enjoying her first visit on Mauritius in almost ten years and had discovered my blogs via a Google Alert. How cool is that?
Next up, I received a “starter set” of Hawid stamp mounts ordered from a dealer in the UK. I’m starting to find a few sources of supplies that don’t charge an arm and a leg to ship them to Thailand. I’ve had bad luck recently in that packets of hinges I’d ordered happened to arrive in the midst of some of the words storms to hit Phuket since I moved here a decade ago, rendering them into a solid mass of stuck-together goo. I felt that I would have better success with mounts, particularly since I have an increasing backlog of Mint Never Hinged stamps that I would like to take out of the stock books and onto my self-printed album pages. I did take a few minutes from other pursuits to mount the first page of Abu Dhabi. Very nice…
Finally! A stamp! This one confused me as it arrived in an envelope mailed from Poland and I hadn’t ordered anything from there. At any rate, it was a used copy of United States Scott #69, the 12c George Washington black from the 1861-62 series. I’d won it from a dealer in Bissinghem, Germany. No idea why it was mailed from Krakow…
One final, semi-philatelic note on the Phuket Vegetarian Festival. The post office left a stack of postal cards on a table in the new shopping center behind my home along with two baskets full of themed handstamps (most were made of metal) and three different colors of inkpads. I’m lucky that I found this on the first day of the festival as the cards quickly disappeared and the ink dried up as very few people closed the lids when they were finished. I spent an enjoyable few minutes applying the handstamps to both sides of perhaps a half-dozen cards. With the post office inaccessible for the duration of the festival (it’s almost at “Ground Zero”), I haven’t yet had the chance to mail any of the cards. I will have to think of some appropriate stamps as none have ever been issued commemorating this festival (this was it’s 190th year in Phuket!). Perhaps next year, I will think to design a few for the Muang Phuket Local Post…
Earlier this month, my teaching agency asked me to substitute teach in a large high school for the seven weeks remaining in the term. As a result, my workload increased to the point that I’ve had very little time to devote to working on my collections or writing about them. Unfortunately, the school doesn’t even have an Internet connection so articles here will be few and far between until early October.
In fact, I’ve only received one philatelic item in the mail over the course of the past two weeks – this unused copy of the one-cent green Hawaii stamp featuring Princess Likelike, Scott #55, issued in 1893 with a red Provisional Government overprint.
I did receive a trickle of Postcrossing postcards over the past few days – one from the Ukraine, one from Russia and my first piece of mail from Turkey. A card also arrived from my sister who had been vacationing along the California Pacific coast. Her card from Avila Beach featured several stamps from the Harry Potter booklet – again, sadly they missed cancellation. I will (eventually) write about these and a few other recently-arrived cards on “Please, Mr. Postman!”
I had been winding-down my online stamp purchases but that has picked up a bit in the past few days. I picked up a nice set of classic Mauritius stamps, inspired by my current reading of Helen Morgan’s fascinating Blue Mauritius: The Hunt for the World’s Most Valuable Stamps. I also picked up a few more countries under the letter “A” – Alsace and Lorraine, Alexandria, Annam & Tonkin, and Antigua & Barbuda amongst them. However, I was outbid for a pair from La Aguera in the last seconds of an eBay auction. That particular stamp-issuer is proving rather elusive!
Of course, you will see these stamps once they arrive in my mailbox – probably in around a month’s time.